I suck in a deep, mangled breath, willing my heart to calm itself, blinking rapidly at the screen and trying to steel my nerves as it continues to vibrate.

 

I answer on the third one. “Hello?” I blurt into the receiver, feigning absent strength in my voice.

 

“Hello,” a male voice responds on the other end—one that obviously does not belong to Richard Zane. “Is this Miss Constance Myers?”

 

A sense of disappointment instantly fills me, and I hate that it does; the tension quickly seeping from my spine, making my shoulders slouch as I loosen the grip on my phone.

 

“Yes, this is her,” I say a bit more somberly.

 

“Good morning, ma’am. My name is Terry Gibbs,” he states. “I’m the head operator of Zanergy’s Local Relocation and Transportation sub-division. Mr. Zane has arranged for your immediate transfer to the San Francisco base. My team and I are more than happy to organize your move. However, because this is a last-minute scheduling, we don’t have nearly as much legroom with the time window as usual. The movers will be dispatching soon and anticipate an arrival time of 8:30 AM at your address. While I can’t make any promises, if you have a different preferred time, please let me know and we’ll do our best to work around that.”

 

My eyes go wide all over again.

 

Holy crap, 8:30’s only a little over an hour away.

 

That’s way too soon.

 

My first impulse is to tell him that, but I quickly realize that they’re probably hoping to beat at least some traffic. Their drive here would be the most certain way to do that. If they leave later in the day, chances are, the entire move will get delayed significantly.

 

Damn this transfer all over again.

 

“Eight-thirty’s fine,” I concur with an inaudible sigh, reluctantly getting out of bed, knowing that a time at ‘my own convenience’ would likely mean even more inconvenience down the line.

 

Mr. Gibbs and I exchange a few more words about logistics and other moving details as my head whips left and right, silently trying to figure out how in the hell I’m going to get packed in an hour while I assure him that it’s all I need.

 

“All right. I’ll contact you again shortly,” he concludes before hanging up.

 

I head to the living room, nervously setting the phone down in plain view as I regard the chaotic state around me.

 

It’s like a unicorn and his wasted frat brother barfed all over the place.

 

Twice.

 

Without a minute to spare, I swiftly clean up the remnants of last night’s partying from the coffee table, discarding empty bottles and impatiently gathering strewn board games in an attempt to tidy up a bit before I start assembling my belongings.

 

While the small window makes me nervous, packing itself should be fairly easy—considering I don’t have that much to bring. Most of the stuff here is Michaela’s.

 

First things first, though.

 

I start a pot of coffee, inhaling the delectable aroma of Adam’s gift as it brews. I take a careful sip, my eyes drifting closed in absolute bliss, humming in delight in spite of myself.

 

Nothing should ever taste this good, I relish as I take another.

 

I drain the first cup before I even realize it, putting my new present to use far sooner than I thought I would. And, with the way this day is panning out, it’s probably going to end up extinct before it’s over.

 

Almost exactly an hour later, Gibbs calls again, informing me that the movers are outside. I all but erupt in a hysterical panic. Despite my relatively few possessions, I grossly overestimated my ability to pack quickly, still only half-way through getting my things together when I get off the phone with him.

 

My skin buzzes with a strange rush of both excitement and anxiety and, before long, I’m running around like a chicken with its head axed, flinging this here and stuffing that there, completely giving up on folding or sorting anything like I’d initially been doing.

 

Miraculously, I manage to pull it off within the next ten minutes. On my way out, my eyes dart back to the coffee table, eyeing the mini clay pot from Adam’s gardening kit where I somehow managed to plant a single tulip bulb between rounds of donkey poker and Michaela’s ridiculous game last night. I deliberate whether or not I should take it. That doesn’t take long, knowing it’ll probably end up dead—or as drunk as I was—before it’s even had the chance to germinate if I leave it with cousin dearest.

 

I glance around one more time, praying I haven’t forgotten anything important. I’d hate to have to drive over two hours each way because I was forgetful.

 

With a final run-through, I check my watch for the umpteenth time. It’s just after eight and Michaela still isn’t back. I try her number but her phone is switched off, as it always is while she’s working. I write a quick note and stick it on the fridge. I wish I could at least say bye in person, but I guess this will have to do for now.

 

Punctually, Gibbs and his movers load all my stuff into a hauling truck that’s far too large for the quantity it’s going to be carrying. Seems like such a waste. Right next to it, a jet-black Escalade remains parked, its impossibly polished surface like a mirror in the sunlight. An elderly man suddenly emerges from it and walks toward me. He smiles, bowing formally.

“Miss Myers?” he inquires, detectable hints of a Germanic accent laced into his speech.

 

“Y-yes, that’s me,” I swallow, still trying to process and take everything in as I literally watch my life change in the blink of an eye.

 

“My name is Edgar,” he extends his hand politely. “Mr. Zane has provided a private car for you.” He gestures to the sleek SUV behind us. “I’ll be your personal driver.”

 

I return the smile despite my surprise at his introduction. “Nice to meet you, Edgar.”

 

I’d assumed I’d be riding with the haulers. I definitely didn’t expect to have another car sent just for me, as well.

 

In the minutes that follow, I can do little else but observe the immediate workings of my new predicament in something of a daze, like it’s happening to someone else. The whole thing feels like a bit of a dream. Not to mention, a spectacle.

 

All this grandiose for a temporary employee.

 

A college intern, no less.

 

Then again…this may very well just be the standard order of business at this company. A typical, everyday occurrence. Even my own brief encounter with its owner oozed of wealth and power. In excess. Of both. Chances are, money is the least of his problems.

 

The moving truck takes off, going ahead of Edgar and I. We promptly follow suit, making our way to our designated vehicle. He opens the back door courteously, revealing a very spacious, starkly matte but equally jet-black interior. I mount the Escalade with my heart in my mouth, still in disbelief that this is happening. With a million and one thoughts scattered through my brain simultaneously, I slide into the backseat…and go completely rigid when I realize it’s all leather.

 

My lips instantly part, ready to say something, but I stop myself just short of actually voicing anything, having to literally bite my tongue in order to do so, even as I feel anger bubble up inside me.

 

Christ…

 

I feel more and more conflicted with each interaction I have with this company. I don’t want to start my time at Zanergy off with complaints, especially before I even get to see the damn place, never mind actually work there. I know how much Earth Cap has riding on this. I already saw the look in Sam’s eyes yesterday.

 

Absolutely no room for fuck ups.

 

I hate feeling like I have to compromise myself; my core values and beliefs, and a huge part of me feels like a sellout for it. I also feel like a part of me just literally died a little inside, the morbid sensation of cold, lifeless skin seeming to clutch at mine even through my clothes, almost bringing me to tears, making me want to hurl all over it.

 

I don’t know how I do it but I manage to stay seated for the entire two-hour trip, planted in the exact same spot. Thankfully, traffic isn’t nearly as grotesque as I anticipate and, consequently, the journey isn’t as long. Or maybe it just feels that way because I have to mentally check out in order to keep myself from picking the very tempting option of jumping out of a tinted window.

 

“We’re finally here, ma’am,” Edgar announces as the engine dies down. I practically scramble out of the car the second he pulls up into a vast, largely vacant parking lot.

 

I look ahead, stunned, my eyes ballooning inside my skull, like they have to increase their physical capacity to take in the entirety of the monumental sight before them.

 

Edgar smiles. “Welcome to your new home.”

 

***

Series Navigation<< 21 Questions: Chapter Eighteen21 Questions: Chapter Twenty >>
THIS MAKES ME FEEL...
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

Leave A Comment

Please Login to Comment.

I accept that my given data and my IP address is sent to a server in the USA only for the purpose of spam prevention through the Akismet program.More information on Akismet and GDPR.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.